Not enough time to study THIS might be the reason

Not enough time to study? THIS might be the reason!

Have you recently heard any of these statements from your son or daughter?

  • I don’t have enough time to study for all of my quizzes and tests coming up this week. I’m so stressed out!
  • My teacher doesn’t explain concepts very well, so I have no idea how to work on this problem. I need to relearn everything from the textbook on my own. This is so annoying!
  • I don’t want to drop my AP classes because I’m going to look like a failure, and I also don’t want to feel left out. All of my friends are taking rigorous courses, so I should be able to handle this too.

These are the statements and complaints that I receive most frequently when I first begin working with my students. Nowadays, in addition to taking AP and Honors courses, students are pressured to join as many clubs as possible, excel on their sports teams, do well on SATs and ACTs, as well as use their weekends to volunteer at local or nearby community centers. Working so hard on so many extracurriculars can afford you a tendency to lose sight of what is really important, and how your child is spending his or her time.  

Because grades are the second half of the academic record equation, I’m starting this week off by talking about the relationship between time and grades.

Studies have shown that high school GPAs used alone are the single highest determining factor used in most college decisions.

That probably does not come as much of a surprise given that, in order for your son or daughter to get straight A’s in a semester, they must maintain all of the following: time management skills, motivation, study techniques, healthy daily habits, as well as have the persistence to study and move forward, despite minor setbacks and failures. All of these factors, and more, determine which label of A, B, C, D, or F your child will receive.

So, here is my suggestion. When it comes to AP classes, do not just take the classes because they are available to you. And, do not take AP classes simply because your friends are taking them. You want to challenge yourself to a certain extent; but, let’s say you are taking AP U.S. History, AP Chemistry, AP Physics, and AP Language, all at the same time — can you handle it? This question should not be answered on a surface level. Consider your son or daughter’s past records, studying habits, and anything else that might give you a better idea of whether your child can handle all the stress and work of AP classes.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, consider this example of one of my seniors this year, who was recently accepted into Cornell.

She was a Biology major. However, initially, she wanted to take all the AP classes that she could. As such, she registered for AP Language, AP U.S. History, AP Biology, AP Statistics, and also expressed interest in taking AP Psychology. Despite this, she expressed that she had a weakness in Social Sciences. So, there was no question when it came to making the decision to drop AP U.S. History from her schedule. This way, she could devote her time to the subjects that mattered most to her. Rather than spending 3 to 4 hours per day reading her AP U.S. History textbook and practicing writing essays, she was able to allocate time to developing strong skills in the fields of science and math. While all of her friends complained about how difficult the AP U.S. History teacher was, and how impossible getting an A in that class was, she never had to stress. Everyday and every hour is precious for our high school students, and her decision not to take an AP course allowed her to use her time wisely, ultimately landing her a spot at Cornell.

So, the takeaway for this week is this: challenge yourself, but do not take all the AP classes, simply because you feel like you need to. Instead of focusing on the quantity of AP courses, allocate your time and energy to something that’s going to strengthen and ultimately guide you to use your time wisely. 

Focusing on what's truly important to you will allow you enough time to study for all of your classes, without stretching yourself too thin.

By Julie Kim Ed.M Harvard University